“Did you build that?” is the most common question I get about Row Bird. As many times as I’ve heard it, I’m never quite sure how to respond.
When I’m in a rush I say yes and if they’re not sailors, the conversation often ends right there. The asker stands nearby, strokes the gunwale’s smooth varnish, smiles sheepishly, and soon wanders off.
If I’m in a good mood, I give them the full tale of how I met Andy Boat out on the Salish Sea and the subsequent series of serendipitous meetings of people who helped put the whole thing together.
Sometimes the question just rankles me and I contemplate lying. I might reply, “Oh, I won it at my kid’s school auction.” If I’m feeling more flippant I jest, “It came in a box of breakfast cereal.”
No matter the response I give, I know that more often than not, the inquiry isn’t about construction, it’s a way of saying, “that’s unusual. I really like your boat, let’s talk.”
But for those people who are genuinely interested in boat building, I feel the most awkward. Sure, I had a hand in the refinement of a design that someone else created. I did the painting and varnishing and some finish work, but Andy Boat did the carpentry that makes up most of the actual boat. Andy Bike led the sail making efforts. I hammered in grommets, cut sailcloth and canvas, worked out the rigging, and sewed anything with crooked stitching.
In the end, I find it strange to take any sort of credit for something that isn’t entirely mine. While I feel proud of the boat, I also feel a bit like a faker. I readily admit that I’m not a boat builder, but the more I answer questions about it, the more I confident I get. Though, let’s face it, the confidence has nothing to do with experience.
But if I want to answer honestly, what do I say? Who made the boat? Was it a collaboration? Does the biggest builder take all? What would you say?